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Using Motion 5's Transition project type to create FCPX transitions

Over the past several weeks, we've been doing tutorials introducing some of the more exciting new features in Motion 5.  We've introduced rigs and generators, and in this article we'll create a custom transition.

In Final Cut Pro X, every last built-in transition is a Motion project.  Want to learn transition-building by example?  Just right-click (or Control+click) on any of the transitions in the Transition Browser, then click Open a copy in Motion.

Motion's Transition project type, like its Effect type, uses placeholders to represent the clips that will be affected in the FCPX timeline.  The clip at the beginning of the transition is always labelled "A," and the clip at the end of the transition is "B."  You can use any of the tools available in Motion to manipulate the two placeholder clips over time, but the transition should start with the A clip fully visible and end with the B clip fully visible.  Bear in mind that Final Cut Pro will speed up or slow down your transition animation to match the duration that you set in the FCP Timeline.

In this tutorial, we will use a stock particle system to create a simple "explosion" transition for use in Final Cut Pro.  There are no project files for this tutorial—everything you need is installed with Motion's Supplemental Content.  Step-by-step after the jump...
  1. Launch Motion 5.  From the New Project dialog, select Blank > Final Cut Transition and click Open.  The Motion interface opens, displaying a new project with two placeholder clips.
    Screen shot 2011-10-11 at 5.41.07 PM.pngScreen shot 2011-10-11 at 5.42.30 PM.png
  2. Broadly speaking, there are two approaches to animating a transition: you can use behaviors or filters to modify the source clips themselves, or you can use Motion's feature set to add other, external elements like graphics and cameras.  We'll do a trivial example of both approaches.  First, let's manipulate one of the source clips.  We'll add a glow filter to the Transition A placeholder and animate it over time, so the clip appears to swell and get bright before we create the explosion.  Select Transition A in the Timeline.  From the Filters menu, select Glow > Dazzle.  A Dazzle filter appears beneath Transition A in the Timeline.Screen shot 2011-10-11 at 5.51.10 PM.png
  3. Now, animate the Dazzle filter so that it starts out at zero and increases over time.  Click the Inspector tab to display the Filters Inspector.  Click on Transition A to select the clip.  Move the playhead to the first frame of the project.  Move the Amount slider in the Heads Up Display to 0.  Then, click the Record button, move the playhead to the last frame of the Transition A clip, and move the Amount slider up to 60.  If you'd like, you can also move the Threshold slider down to about 40; this will make more of the image glow, including the arrow on the placeholder clip.  Now, the amount of glow on the "A" clip will increase over time.  Be sure to click the Record button again to turn it off when you're done animating.Screen shot 2011-10-11 at 5.55.48 PM.pngThumbnail image for Screen shot 2011-10-11 at 5.55.59 PM.png
  4. Screen shot 2011-10-11 at 5.56.14 PM.png

  5. Now, add the explosion to conceal the transition between clips.  Click the Library tab at the top-left of the Motion interface.  Navigate to Particle Emitters > Pyro > Big Blast, and drag the Big Blast preset object into your Motion project.  Position it on a new layer above the two Transition placeholders, and time it so that the peak of the explosion occurs just at the moment that Transition A ends and Transition B begins.Screen shot 2011-10-11 at 6.01.07 PM.pngScreen shot 2011-10-11 at 6.01.55 PM.png
  6. Increase the scale of the explosion so that it completely conceals both clips at the moment of the transition.  Click on the Big Blast layer in the Timeline to select it.  Click the Inspector tab at the top-left of the Motion interface, then click its Properties sub-tab to reveal the Properties Inspector.  Use the Scale slider to increase the size of the explosion until it covers the whole frame (Hint: You may need to press Shift+Z to zoom your Canvas to fit the entire frame in it).Screen shot 2011-10-11 at 6.17.20 PM.png
  7. Press Command+S or select File > Save to save the transition.  You'll be prompted to give the transition a name and an optional category or theme to organize it in your FCP Transitions Browser.  Supply this information then click Publish.Screen shot 2011-10-11 at 6.10.16 PM.png
  8. Launch Final Cut Pro, and open the Transitions Browser.  You'll see your new transition in the gallery; you can drag it between any two clips in your Timeline just like a regular transition to see its effect.Screen shot 2011-10-11 at 6.21.00 PM.png
If you want to edit the timing, aesthetics, or anything else about the transitions, just right-click on the transition in the Transition Browser and select Open In Motion.  Make the changes that you'd like to try, then press Save—the transition in FCPX's Transition Browser will update automatically.

This is just a taste of what the new Transition project type can do.  Be sure to take a look at our new Motion 5 class offerings, and come learn with us in Orlando or on-site at your location!  We answer the phone 24/7 at 866-566-1881.

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Adjusting Title Templates with Markers in Motion 5 was the previous entry in this blog.

Advanced Compositing in Avid Media Composer is the next entry in this blog.

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